Yet more ground crumbled from beneath the feet of the Bush Administration's "Just Us" Department late today when Monica Goodling, chief council to Alberto Gonzalez resurfaced and will plead the Fifth.
The senior counselor to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales will refuse to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the unfolding
attorneys scandal, invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, her attorneys said today. U.S.
Monica M. Goodling -- who is on an indefinite leave of absence from Gonzales's office -- also alleges in a sworn declaration that a "senior Department of Justice official" has admitted he was "not entirely candid" in his Senate testimony and has blamed Goodling and others for not fully briefing him.
The declaration does not identify the senior official, but says the admission was made to Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a member of the Senate Judiciary panel who is leading the
attorneys probe. The only two Justice officials who have testified in front of that committee about the firings are Gonzales and Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty. U.S.
Former Gonzales chief of staff D. Kyle Sampson, who has been accused by Gonzales of withholding information, is expected to dispute that claim in testimony scheduled for Thursday before the Senate Judiciary panel.
In the declaration presented to the Senate committee and released by her attorneys today, Goodling, 33, says Schumer and other lawmakers, including Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), have already "drawn conclusions" about the U.S. attorney firings. As a result, Goodling says, she has decided to "invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege against self incrimination and decline to answer any and all questions from the committee or its staff."
"I have decided to follow my lawyer's advice and respectfully invoke my constitutional right, because the above-described circumstances present a perilous environment in which to testify," Goodling says.
I appreciate the Fifth Amendment – don’t get me wrong – but I also have a cynical opinion of anyone who announces from the get-go that they will plead it right out the gate and refuse to answer all questions reflexively. They might as well be saying “Yeah, I admit I fucked up and you caught me. But I’m not gonna ‘fess up and you can’t make me.”
I usually read pleading the Fifth as a de facto confession of malicious behavior.UPDATE: Josh Marshall has the Letter from Goodlings Attorney to the Senate Juciciary Committee.
(Hat tip to PJ in Jesusland for the title of this post.)